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08-19-11 UPDATE: Podcast Update: TECHNOSTALGIA: Time to Read, Episode 6: Ernest Cline, Ready Player One

Here's the sixth episode of my new series of podcasts, which I'm calling Time to Read. The podcasts/radio broadcasts will be of books worth your valuable reading time. I'll try to keep the reports under four minutes, for a radio-friendly format. If you want to run them on your show or podcast, let me know. This one was written and recorded while I in the process of interviewing Juliet Eilperin, Michael Reynier, and Michael Harvey.

My hope is that in under four minutes I can offer readers a concise review and an opportunity to hear the author read from or speak about the work. I'm hoping to offer a new one every week.

The fifth episode is a review of Ernest Cline's 'Ready Player One' featuring Cline's centerpiece question arond which he created the novel. Here's a link to the MP3 audio file.

08-17-11: A 2011 Interview with Michael Katakis and Kris L. Hardin

"There was still this sense of hope."

—Kris L. Hardin

It is one thing to immerse one's self in writers' lives by reading their work, even if that work is entirely autobiographical, and it is something quite different to sit down with them in their home. The immediacy of 'Photographs and Words' by Michael Katakis and Kris Hardin is the most striking aspect the book. You are there with Michael and Kris as they live day-by-day in Sierra Leone, Rapallo, Paris or — name your destination.

Sitting down with them at their table in Hardin House, in the most gorgeous part of one of California's most celebrated towns, Carmel, is an experience that itself evokes their experience. You can feel the entire world in this lovely room.

I spent quite a bit of time with 'Photographs and Words' before I sat down to talk with Michael and Kris. You can probably read it cover-to-cover over the course of a long, lazy summer's day. That's a great way to start, but having done so, you'll find yourself wanting to return. To really spend some time with these two, to follow their journey.

When I found myself actually sitting down with them, their presence was enveloping, their house comforting. It's been in Kris' family for generations. It's in a part of town so small, there's no house number. It's just Hardin House.

My son joined me on this interview, shooting HD video and helping with sound. On the way we shot footage of Carmel, and the Monterey Bay. It was an overcast day; this summer has been particularly foggy here on the Monterey Bay. And while I call this audio an "interview," it didn't feel like that when we say down at their table. It felt like family, sitting down to share memories even as we made new memories. You can luxuriate in a conversation about life and the world, about how we got where we are and where we can go from here, by following this link to the MP3 audio file.

08-15-11: A 2011 Interview With Ernest Cline

Click image for audio link.

"The name Watts is from a John Hughes movie called Some Kind of Wonderful..."

—Ernest Cline

Sometimes a book comes along and you read more than the book itself; you can read the author as well, in the book, in the prose, you can feel the author's enthusiasm and it is infectious. When I finally sat down to talk with Ernest Cline, I knew in advance that it would be one of those interviews where it would be all too easy to tweedle the whole day away in minutia. I mean, here's a book that references the 1980's show Riptide, and not just once.

The trick then, is to stay on point, to stay on task, and to keep the perspective just far enough back so that you don't spend the entire week in Yosemite looking at the bark of one tree, so to speak. I'm pretty sure that Ernest and I could have done just that on any one of a number of points in the book. But the brilliance of 'Ready Player One' is not just its evocation of 1980's nostalgia. Cline gets behind the specifics to talk about some of the mechanisms of nostalgia, and that was just one part of our conversation.

I knew that Cline had started out his career as writer with the screenplay for the movie Fanboys, and that the movie which came out of the experience was not what he intended going in. But as we talked about his writing history, one of the themes that came out was the import of getting out and putting both yourself and your work, in public. Cline was a fixture in the Austin spoken word scene, and in the poetry slams. Public performance goes a long way to help any writer hone their chops.

But no matter what we talked about, Cline and I are really from the same tribe, products of the cubicle farms who never grew rooted and managed to escape. Not surprisingly, escape from the cubicle farm is a reality in Cline's novel. To help pass the time while you plot your own escape on the way to work, you can listen to our conversation by following this link to the MP3 audio file.

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